Day Twenty-Four: Hermit crab envy

I think of it as kayak syndrome. Not the kind of kayak that sits on a rack at the southern end of Lake of the Isles, but syndrome. I don’t even want to think about how much time I spend on, because then I’d be face to face with the true measure of my addiction.

There are tricks to traveling on the cheap, and I’m pretty sure I know 99% of them. Back in the day, airline clerks used to ask me for my IATA number, whatever that is, because they assumed I was a travel agent.

I get a panicky feeling when I look at a globe, because there are so few places, relatively speaking, that I’ve been. And how much time do I have left in which to get to all the places I haven’t been and want to go?

Maybe many years. Maybe a few days. Maybe that road trip to Montana and Wyoming, two weeks ago, was it.

Some mornings I wake up and want to crawl right out of my own skin, so restless and dissatisfied and fragmented do I feel. It’s a get me out of here feeling, with the “here” being this house, this city, this state, this country. This body. This mind.

You can see the problem. When the here you want to get out of is your own self, it’s not going to help to get on a plane to Bhutan.

But kayak syndrome sets in anyway. In one version of the site, you can plug in the dates you want to be gone and the cheapest fares to anywhere in the world will pop up all over a map of the world. Click. Click. Click.

My brother, who understands this need to travel because he has it too –although I’m not sure about the crawling out of your own skin part of it for him– sends me links to mind-boggling deals that you can take advantage of if you can get to the airport within, say, an hour. Or mind-boggling deals that you can take advantage of if you want to go somewhere that, apparently, no one else in the entire world wants to go.

Anyway, today was one of those get me out of here days. But I can’t go anywhere, at least today, so I decided to change my name instead.

You may now refer to me as A Long Chemise.

This name was first given to me by a bunch of graduating Vermont College MFA students who fed my real name through an anagram machine. They did the same thing for all the teachers, but I liked my anagram name best. The minute I heard it, I felt long and cool and summery, as if I was walking through an orchard wearing the kind of baglike dress that usually looks horrible on me, but somehow, on A Long Chemise, looked good.

If you can’t crawl out of your skin, you can rearrange the letters of your name and feel a little better, at least for a few minutes. It’s like word helium.

After walking around for a while as A Long Chemise, I decided that today’s never done before challenge would be to anagramize the names of my sisters and my brother and my youthful companions and my best friend.

I thought this would be a relatively easy task, given the existence of marvelous sites like this one.

But of course, once I actually started feeding names into the anagram machine, I got obsessed with the results. It’s a big responsibility, changing the names of those you love. Somehow the anagram name has to fit some essential quality of their personalities. This requires sifting through hundreds and hundreds of anagram names in order to hit upon the right one. It took me quite a while. Almost as long as I would have spent clicking fare after fare on

But the task is done, and I have to say it was a satisfying one.

My children, Nib Merino and Bulkier One and Nib Overdone, are all busy tonight. I think I’ll give my best friend Gentle Wiglets a call and see what she’s up to.


  1. Karen · August 3, 2012

    Oh, I love it! I’ll have to wait to even think about clicking on that site, though, until I’ve done enough responsible things…


  2. Ginger · August 3, 2012

    Oh dear. Now you’ve given me a new obsession in I, too, get that get-me-out-of-here feeling, but seldom can give into it.

    I anagram my characters’ names. I don’t know it that’ll ever make it into a book someday, but it’s there in my head. Fun stuff to look forward to when you realize you’ve reduced your manuscript by three pages and all you’ve done is take out the word “just” over and over again. Three pages worth of “just”? Sheesh.


  3. alison · August 4, 2012

    Ginger and Karen, I feel your pain. It’s all I can sometimes to shut down the internet and get actual things done.

    As for three pages of “just,” it seems sadly and entirely possible to me. . .


  4. Lucy · August 7, 2012

    I love the anagram site so much – I like being Clunky Tempo, or even better Pluck Me Tony, whereas my dear husband is quite reborn as Mash Me Knopknot!


  5. oreo · August 14, 2012

    so we came back from a two-week, couple thousand mile roadtrip late saturday night, and approximately 16 hours later i turn to my husband and say with a sigh, “honey, here’s the problem.” he looks at me and says, “oh no, you’re already trying to figure out the next time we can get out of here, aren’t you?”

    how well people get to know each other over the years.

    especially since that wasn’t actually what i was going to say, but it was certainly on my mind.

    if you start a support group for kayak syndrome sufferers, count “azure am doing i” in. except i’d sneak off to the bathroom and swap info on the best deals.


  6. Nicole · August 17, 2012

    I too suffer from “OH MY GOD I NEED TO GO” syndrome (although as of late, I am more like, let’s stay put for a while please). is great for wanderlust. I have planned about 50 times as many vacation as I’ve actually taken.

    I think I might take a note from your book and when I am stuck at home for a while change my name! that’s fun. I like it.


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